Following a five-month undercover sting operation, police raided over a dozen Jaffa houses on Wednesday morning and arrested 15 men, one of whom is suspected of overseeing the making of explosives for Tel Aviv underworld figures, and a second that police say tried to solicit a mob hit from a Jaffa criminal working undercover as a police informant.

During the early morning raids, detectives and officers from the YASAM Special Patrol Unit arrested the 15 suspects, most of whom are residents of Jaffa.

In addition to the alleged bomb-maker and the man who tried to solicit the mob hit, the other suspects are believed to be involved in a series of drug and weapons offenses, including several incidents in which the informant recorded them selling him firearms, including sub-machine guns.

Ch.-Supt. Nissim Daudi of the Tel Aviv district’s YAMAR investigative unit said that the undercover agent was a Jaffa-based criminal in his 30s who had served time in the past for a number of violent crimes. Daudi noted that the suspects already knew the agent well, and so he did not have to waste time earning their trust, as when police officers are sent undercover.

Possibly the most serious charge in the case involves the man who the informant recorded trying to hire him to carry out a hit for northern mob boss Michael Mor. Police said that the man – an Arab Israeli from northern Israel who works for the Mor crime family – had been ordered to find a contract killer willing to murder a member of the rival Karajah crime family, following the stabbing of Mor’s brother in an Israeli prison last year. The man was an associate of the police informant and decided to visit him in Jaffa to see if he’d be willing to carry out the hit, Daudi said.

During the five months the informant was working in Jaffa, the city saw an escalation of tension between rival crime families, marked by several shooting incidents.

Against this backdrop, the informant was reportedly able to record himself purchasing five explosive devices from the main suspect. Daudi said the bombs ranged in price from about NIS 3,000 to NIS 15,000.

Daudi did not specify why the informant worked for police, but did list a number of motivations, including that police may have offered to clear a pending case against him.

All 15 suspects will be brought before the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court on Wednesday.

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